“Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.” – Zorba the Greek.
Asprovalta-Vrasna was my holiday destination this year as well as several hundred thousand Serbs. When you start your journey to the sea, the main in-car hobby is who will see the sea first. But at Asprovalte-Vrasna you can’t do so until you literally reach your destination.
From Thessaloniki, as you are tired from the road, you know that it’s there, but it is not visible because you are driving all the time along the coast but it’s on the other side of the mountains that just won’t stop.
Envy those who turned to Halkidiki because they will look beyond the first curve to look at the salty surface that gives meaning to the journey. But we who go to A-V have to look at some 100 km into the lake until the sea, which is already dark, and nothing can be seen.
One of the happy coincidences I never plan for and that happened is that the our room had a great view of the sea.
It must be some kind of cosmic justice for all that planning before; whether the apartment is on the ground floor, whether the toilet is big enough, whether my wheelchair can get through the door, whether the sink is accessible, whether the bed is too low. Of course, the agent who sells the arrangements does not understand the importance of whether the door is of adequate width, because otherwise I can return home. Then there is telephoning to find some good soul that will check the apartment, a stroll through TripAdviser starts in the manner of a real detective, to check that no one has accidentally taken that apartment and so on.
And when the travel ‘machine’ starts up, with me with a frog in my throat I ask myself: Did the travel agent understand our needs, or did he just dismiss them?
And so if all of these preparations come together, my vacation can start by me looking at the sea in the morning and taking a morning dose of vitamin D while I beat my father in chess.
Then it’s time to have breakfast. In Greece, people think that you are sick if you do not eat feta cheese with a pita breed made in bakery by someone who is without fail called Nikos or Dimitris. Once I ate lunch at a Tavern called Marko’s and I got a cap for a souvenir.
Since A-V is like an airport runway, walking is a compulsory sport that i like to practices there.
In this case, it is best to sleep in Vrasna and walk to Asprovalta. So you have a justification for all those cakes that you will be eating in pastry shops in Asprovalta.
The walk is not easy, it takes 45 minutes there and 45 minutes back, fast walking or rolling in a wheelchair.
This year I was hoping that I would bathe in A-V because they had water trolleys standing near the tower for the rescuers.
The coast is quite steep and effort is needed to pull the wheelchair and there were some know-it-all’s who threw their towels on the beach of 1km on those twenty-five-inch maneuvering space. I did not want to make a fuss when I already have, thank God, a better solution in Stavros on the beach Milies, so I rode a little to get there but in the end I got myself salted many times.
A-V has now become big enough to have a market on Monday which is bigger than that in Stavros Thursday. Just when you think there are no more fish to be eaten, there is a new market with more. The bay was full and once, while I was in the sea, a fish rushed into my hand literally.
In the market you can find everything from a needle to a locomotive, including a monk from a nearby monastery selling the most oriental origano in the world and just two balsams, for dry skin and a cream for everything else. We bought both.
A-V is important enough to have a very beautiful church – St. George, in which there are 19 icons brought by the refugees.
The priest who is responsible for the church was gazing at the tourists in swimsuits with a disapproving frown as they entered, I was the only one who he blessed. Maybe because I was the only one who was wearing trousers.
Once, while fighting a gyros, I watched five local boys who came to eat. Everyone of them ordered a hamburger. I usually have a problem with chewing, so I thought that the kids know better so I stopped trying to act like a Greek.
In Greece, it used to be a brand to drink thick chocolate milk. I found it in one of the bakeries in Asprovalta and it went great with homemade pastries.
It’s a tough life being a tourist, because after every arrival there is a return. But if you’ve taken enough memories with you then you will return home with a treasure that you will cook all winter. I returned with a full suitcase.
Traveled and enjoyed, Marko Veličković.